Chinese families sending children abroad share experiences, concerns
Published: Jan 02, 2019 07:03 PM
December was a very important month for many Chinese middle-class families who applied to universities in the United States. Top US schools often announce the results of early applications in mid-December, leaving an equal proportion of Chinese applicants either ecstatic or dismayed depending on their offers.

The Global Times recently interviewed several families based in Shanghai, Beijing and East China's Zhejiang Province whose children have applied to overseas schools. Among the questions we asked are why they prefer US schools over other Western countries, what their budgets are, what their biggest concern is and if they still think it is wise to send their children to the US in light of recent events.

Mrs Wang

Shanghainese mother of a daughter

We sent our daughter to the US for high school in 2013, so it was the natural step for her to also apply to American colleges. We hoped that she could 'find herself' in a more open educational environment. Our budget is 500,000 yuan ($72,463.77) per year. Our biggest concerns are her safety and security.

We were quite satisfied to learn that she received an offer from her dream school. She is now more independent and mature as a result of living independently overseas.

Mrs Lv

Shanghainese mother of a son

My son decided to experience the outside world on his own, and my husband and I supported him. Our budget is 4 to 5 million yuan, including a master's degree. We made the decision at the very last minute before early application, so he only received one offer from a US college.

We are most concerned about his security; we hope that he won't be influenced by negative people. Because he was so overprotected by us throughout his childhood, our other concern is his adaptability in society. Studying abroad is a positive step in the growth and development of any child.

Mrs Chen

Shanghainese mother of a daughter

Studying abroad can help children mature faster. Our daughter's abilities to make sound judgments, communicate well and solve problems on her own will improve once she is studying abroad. She will gain a broader vision and a more open attitude. A strong heart will also be cultivated as she faces failure and success on her own. Many different kinds of majors are available in US colleges, which will help her find a career that is more suitable for her.

We previously set our budget at 2.5 million yuan for four years toward a bachelor's degree. But now she plans to also get her master's degree there, so we must prepare more money. When we were choosing schools, we designed an index covering tuition, transportation, school rankings and security. Her security is of course our biggest concern. She received offers from a top-30 university and two lower-tiered schools. Deciding to study abroad is like a one-way road for Chinese families; we can't turn back once the process is started.

Mr Le

Zhejiang father of a daughter

My wife studied in the US for six months long ago. She was impressed by the academic atmosphere there, so we encouraged our daughter to also consider studying abroad, and she agreed. Our budget was raised to 3 million yuan because of inflation. A big concern is her safety.

Sino-US relations influence grass-roots families like ours, so that's also something we must prepare for. Unfortunately, she did not receive any early application offers from the US, but she was accepted by a school in the UK. We did not hire an agency to help with her application, which was a double-edged sword. But the difficult application process itself was very meaningful, as it helped my daughter toughen up for the future.

Mr Hong

Beijing father of a son

We previously thought it would be easier to apply to US colleges compared with all the competition in China. But we have since discovered that is not the case. Now we must stick it out, since it's impossible to register for the Chinese college entrance admission system. We also initially expected our budget would be only 2 million yuan for four years, but we were wrong again. Preparing for standardize tests (TOEFL and SAT) alone have already set us back more than 200,000 yuan.

Then add another 100,000 yuan for an agency to help with the application process. Luckily, thanks to our agency, he has already received two offers with his desired major.

I have many concerns in addition to our son's security. He isn't very academically inclined, so I worry if he can keep up with American students. I can't say yet whether this is the right decision; I'll let you know in four years.

Zhao Yanhua

Co-founder of Shanghai Zhenhe Academy, an academic consultancy that helps Chinese families study abroad

Gone are the days when Chinese students received several offers from Ivy League universities in the West. In fact, since 2015, it has been very challenging for Chinese students to be admitted into top-tier Western schools. STEM majors in particular are having a rough go at it.

Today, Chinese families must be quite wealthy in order to financially support their children while they study overseas.

They also need to take the time to determine if their child can truly survive in a foreign environment, because not everyone can.

UC Berkeley campus Photo: VCG